Department of Psychology
Fax: (506) 450-9615
Research Interests: Critical social psychology; Cultural construction of identities; Migration processes; Women and sexuality
My various research interests reflect my deep curiosity of the dynamic and mutual relation between social reality and the individual. I approach this from the perspective of a cultural social psychologist.
The theme of social identities and their fluidity fascinates me predominantly – but not exclusively - along the dimension of culture. I am not as much interested in cross-cultural comparisons as I am in the role that culture plays in the way we construct our identities and the identities of others. Within this broad backdrop, I explore various topics and themes.
One of these themes relates to how people use multiple group memberships to protect and enhance their group’s image. I am interested in how group members actively deny or affirm shared group membership with others by focusing on the others’ alternate group memberships. For example, my colleagues and I explored this dynamic in an archival study in which we found that Ben Johnson, a 100-meter Jamaican-Canadian sprinter on the 1988 Olympic team, was characterised in the media as a Canadian when he was a gold medal winner. However, after Johnson’s gold medal was taken away due to steroid use, the Canadian media then emphasised his Jamaican identity. We have called this technique MOATING: "moving others away/toward the in-group”. We have examined and replicated MOATING in several experiments. I am currently interested in examining MOATING using qualitative approaches.
A research question that I have become interested in recently is: If two or more cultures are important to our sense of self, how do specific social identities interact with cultural constructs of these identities? In particular, I explore whether and how distinct cultural constructs of what means to be a woman play into women’s experiences of strength and distress associated with that that notion of womanhood. How do women with multiple cultural identities negotiate these multiple, and possibly contrasting, constructs of “a woman”?
Another research interest lies in the area of migration-related processes such as attitudes toward immigrants and motives for one’s own emigration. In a recent collaboration, Chris Cohrs of Queen’s University Belfast (Northern Ireland) and I examined the role of two ideological attitude variables, right-wing authoritarianism (i.e., the tendency to follow and reinforce conventional societal norms) and social dominance orientation (i.e., the preference for hierarchical relations between groups), in attitudes of members of host societies toward immigrants.
The second collaborative project in this area focuses on the processes associated with interprovincial, rather than international, migration. In particular, the role of various factors such as linguistic status and majority/minority provincial status (e.g., being a French Canadian in Ontario – a provincial minority status) and push and pull motivations relating to migration (e.g., search for personal adventure – a pull factor; poor economic outlooks in one’s province – a push factor) in interprovincial migration are investigated. Aside of myself, two Canadian researchers,Richard Bourhis (Université du Québec à Montréal) and Victoria M. Esses (The University of Western Ontario), are involved in this upcoming project. This research is supported by a SSHRC general grant (April, 2009 – March, 2012) with Dr. Bourhis as the Principal Investigator and Dr. Esses and myself as Co-investigators.Recent Publications
Cohrs, J. C., & Stelzl, M. (in press). How ideological attitudes predict host society members' attitudes toward immigrants: Exploring cross-national differences. Journal of Social Issues, 66.
Stelzl, M., & Seligman C. (2009). Multiplicity Across Cultures: Multiple National Identities and Multiple Value Systems. Organization Studies, 30, 959-973.
Stelzl, M., Janes, L. M., & Seligman, C. (2008). Champ or Chump: Strategic utilization of dual social identities of others. European Journal of Social Psychology, 38, 128-138.
Esses, V.M., Semenya, A.H., & Stelzl, M., Dovidio, J. F., & Hodson, G. (2006). Maximizing social psychological contributions to addressing social issues: The benefits of an interdisciplinary perspective. In P. Van Lange (Ed.), Bridging social psychology: Benefits of transdisciplinary approaches (pp. 403-408). Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.
Stelzl, M. (March 2010). Perceptions of One’s Own Migration, Attitudes toward Immigrants and Immigration, and Ideological Beliefs. Invited research talk -the University of Western Ontario, Canada.
Cohrs, J. C., & Stelzl, M. (July, 2009). Host Society Members' Attitudes toward Immigrants: Exploring Cross-National Differences. Presentation at the 32nd Annual Scientific Meeting of the International Society for Political Psychology, Dublin, Ireland.
Stelzl, M. & Esses, V. M. (June, 2009). The role of ideological beliefs in attitudes toward emigration and immigration. Poster presentation at the 2009 Annual Convention of the Canadian Psychological Association, Montreal Canada.
Stelzl, M. (June, 2008). The role of right-wing authoritarianism in the MOATING strategy. Poster presented at the 2008 Annual Convention of the Canadian Psychological Association, Halifax, Canada.
Esses, V. M., Stelzl, M., & Mihic, L. (October, 2007). Willingness to help immigrants: Direct assistance versus empowerment. Presentation at the SESP Annual Conference, Chicago, Illinois.
Stelzl, M. & Esses, V. M. (June, 2007). Through the migrant looking glass: Interactive relations between perceptions of one’s own migration and attitudes toward immigrants. Presentation at the SPSSI-EAESP Small Group Meeting on International Perspectives on Immigration, Toronto, Canada.
Stelzl, M., & Seligman C. (May, 2007). Multiplicity Across Cultures: Multiple National Identities and Multiple Value Systems. Presentation at the IACCM Conference: Crosscultural Life of Social Values, Rotterdam, Netherlands.
Stelzl, M. (November, 2005). Through the migrant-looking glass: Does the “who” in the migration process make all the difference? Invited presentation at the InterKnow Conference: Intercultural Knowledge Management (Challenges of Eastern and Western Europe), Vienna, Austria.
Stelzl, M., Janes, L. M., & Seligman, C. (June, 2004). Pride or Prejudice: The Dynamics of MOATING. Poster presented at the International Conference: Why Neighbours Kill: Explaining the Breakdown of Ethnic Relations, London, Canada.
Stelzl, M. (July, 2003). MOATING: A social-identity based self-presentational strategy. Paper presented at the Waterloo-Western Conference in Waterloo, Canada.
Stelzl, M., Janes, L. M., & Seligman, C. (February, 2001). MOATING: A social-identity based self-presentational strategy. Poster presented at the Second Annual Meeting of the Society of Personality and Social Psychology in San Antonio, Texas, U.S.A..
Stelzl, M., Janes, L. M., & Seligman, C. (May, 2000). Ben Johnson: Canadian champ, Jamaican-born chump. Paper presented at the Waterloo-Western Conference in Waterloo, Canada.
Courses Regularly Taught
Psychology 2023: Introduction to Research Methods